Flower power: Northamptonshire’s renewable garden

Shaun Heasman is a Renewables Specialist here at Opus Energy. A member of the Roade gardening club, he has spent years working on and building up his garden into one of the most diverse and lushly green spaces in the area.

As you walk into Shaun’s garden, you are struck by all the wonderful sights and smells of a wealth and variety of plant life. Manicured beds with flowers of every shape and colour border perfectly trimmed lawns and merging garden paths. At one end, a patio seating area sits alongside a large decking lounge area with a hot tub and easy chairs, lined with pot plants and lavish hanging baskets.

The fact that such an oasis exists in a sleepy Northamptonshire village is surprising enough, but the real shock comes when you realise that almost everything you see is powered and maintained renewably.

Using all the latest renewable technology, Shaun has created a system which ensures that absolutely nothing is wasted, including the sun. In these cold, dark winter months, Shaun is still able to work out in his garden due to a clever method of collecting and storing solar power. High capacity mobility scooter batteries, which have more ampage than a car battery, make it possible to store large amounts of energy which help Shaun’s two greenhouses can stay lit and heated, even in these gloomy January evenings.

As well as two greenhouses, Shaun also has a 20ft poly tunnel which is heated by a separate system called a Solar Heat Sync. The Sync is a 1mx1m hole in the ground, filled with stone and broken glass. The solar panel charges the battery which in turn drives a small recycled PC cooling fan (shown below) 24 hours per day. The fan sucks air in from the top of the greenhouse where the air is hottest and pumps it through the 38mm standard PVC waste pipe into the base of the heatsink hole. The hot air then rises through the heatsink warming the heatsink material and cooling the air which emerges through a vent and into the greenhouse.

sync graphic

At night time the now cool air at the top of the greenhouse is pushed through the now warm heatsink heating up the air and cooling down the heatsink material. This warm air then passes through the vent into the greenhouse where it helps to keep up the temperature.

The even temperature helps the plants in the greenhouses and tunnel to grow, as does the organic liquid food that Shaun produces renewably from kitchen waste. All vegetable products and fallen fruit goes in a 100L wormery, whilst dry ingredients from hedge cuttings goes in a separate composting system, and comes out as a nourishing plant-food mixture.

Shaun also has a small outdoor kitchen, powered entirely by solar power. The solar panel charges the battery-powered water tank that’s underneath the sink, which is connected to a 12V pump. Then there’s a 15L storage container underneath. Over the winter, Shaun leaves the solar panel on which trickle charges the battery over the winter period, so when spring comes he can just connect the battery and the pipes back up, and it’ll all be ready to go.

Shaun’s perfectly honed garden makes sure nothing is wasted in his self-contained eco-system, and demonstrates the amazing potential of renewable energy and just how far it can go towards making you self-sustainable at almost no cost. In the coming year, Shaun hopes to add solar pods to the roof of the lounge area which will provide additional heat for his hot tub, and further reduce his electricity bill.

His garden is off the grid, and off the charts for beauty and diversity. We wish Shaun luck in the up and coming open garden competitions, and look forward to keeping up to date with him and all the latest developments in his incredible garden.


  1. richard franklin says:

    Lovely, can’t wait for the invite in Summer Shaun for a few glasses of red and a grand tour

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